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.. Atma Bodha ..
April 10, 2015
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Text title : Atmabodha

File name : aatmabodha.itx
Location : doc_z_misc_shankara
Author : Adi Shankaracharya
Language : Sanskrit
Subject : philosophy/hinduism/religion
Transliterated by : Kim Poulsen (poulsen at
Proofread by : M. Giridhar giridhar at, Sunder Hattangadi
sunderh at, David Lyttle dhlyttle at
Description-comments : Samata Edition of Complete works of Shankaracharya
Latest update : July 7, 2013
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namaH shrIsha NkarAnandagurupAdAmbujanmane .
savilAsamahAmohagrAhagrAsaikakarmaNe ..
pa nchadashI
I bow at the lotus feet of the Guru, Shankara, whose
is to eliminate the alligator of delusion (moha) with all its
Atma Bodha, meaning self knowledge, was composed by
Adi Shankara
sometime in the 8th century.
To quote Sri Radhakrishnan The Advaitism of Shankara
is a system
of great speculative daring and logical subtlety . Its austere
intellectualism, its remorseless logic, which marches on indif-
ferent to
the hopes and beliefs of man, its relative freedom from theo-
obsessions, make it a great example of a purely philosophical
scheme . It
is impossible to read Shankaras writings, packed as they are
with serious
and subtle thinking, without being conscious that one is in
contact with a
mind of a very ne penetration and profound spirituality . With
his acute


feeling of the immeasurable world, his stirring gaze into the

mysteries of the spirit, his unswerving resolve to say neither
more nor
less than what could be proved, Shankara stands out as a heroic
gure of
the rst rank in the somewhat motley crowd of the religious
thinkers of
medieval India ....
Shankara taught us to love Truth, respect reason and realize
purpose of life . Twelve centuries have passed, and yet his
inuence is
His inuence on Indian philosophy is so enormous that
most of the
later philosophies that evolved in India had either to agree with
him or
disagree with him, quoting him nevertheless.
Shankara, in his indisputable style, allows a place for Karma
Bhakti while emphasising the prime necessity of j nAna for
the realization
of the Self . For example, while commenting on Bhagvadgita
he takes Bhakti to be identical to j nAna by quoting 7.16-18
the gItA where Krishna says that a j nAni is one of His Bhaktas.
In Vivekachudamani, he goes on to say that Bhakti is one
the most conducive causes for liberation . Similarly, in the third
verse of
atma bodha, he says that karma is not opposed to ignorance,
though it can

not destroy ignorance . Undoubtedly a great religious reformer

philosopher, Shankara embraces within his fold all pantheism
maintaining the principle of non-duality.
Though Shankara is famous for his commentaries (bhAShya-
s) on the
three major texts considered as launching pad for liberation
(prasthAnatrayI, the triple cannon),
namely bhagvad gItA, brahmasUtra-s, and upaniShad-s, he has
composed a large number of stotra-s (hymns in praise of
various gods) and
also brief expositions in prose and verse (prakaraNa-s ). Atma
Bodha falls
into the last category . A rare but an excellent commentary of
this work in
Sanskrit has been provided by Swami kRiShNAnandAshramI
and has been
translated in to english by Vidyaratna Menon . Other notewor-
translations of the text are by Swami Chinmayananda, Swami
TMP Mahadevan, and Parthasarathy, to name a few.
The text of Atmabodha avoids the technicalities found in
vedas, but conveys the message of jnana yoga (the path of
knowledge) to
the layman . In a short compendium of sixty eight stanzas, the
knowledge of
the Self is described in an unique and simple style . Shankara
starts with
the requirements of the aspirant, and goes on to explain the
nature of
world -Samsara, the embodiments of the soul, the inuence of
mAyA and the

superimposition of Atman . He describes the meditation tech-

nique based on
aphorism I am Brahman, the supreme being,
Aham Brahmasmi, and elucidates the fruits of Self-realization
and the
state of the jivanmukta (liberated soul).
Since the realization of the Self can not be had from books
scriptures, Shankara insists on the necessity of instruction by a
Self-realized Guru (teacher). The intense desire to liberate and
eort required by the sAdhaka (aspirant) is emphasized . If
there is no
eort, there can not be a result . As Sri Radhakrishnan says
People in
our society have resolved to renounce nothing, but wish to
enjoy the fruit
of renunciation. The vedanta kesari puts it The goal we desire
be) to reach the ideal society of the prophets, a society of just,
peaceful, morally and intellectuially progressive community of
attached and responsible individuals, the means we adopt
therefore must be
worthy of the ends . Then only the real age of millennium will
dawn wherein
one feels that the whole world is ones family of kith and kin,
a place
for nothing but love and fellow feeling, in short a vasudhaivaku-
(universe as a family).
Commenting on the rst verse of Atma Bodha, the sanskrit
commentator, Swami kRiShNAnandAshramI, remarks that
Sri Shankaracharya
composed the three great bhashyas (of the upaniShads, gItA,
and brahma

sUtra) for the guidance of people qualied by birth, environ-

circumstances, and mental, moral and spiritual development .
Out of great
compassion for the rest of the masses, Shankara composed
Atmabodha for
explaining the knowledge of the Self.
The treatise of the knowledge of self, Atmabodha, is meant
those whose sins have been destroyed by religious austerities,
who are
calm, devoid of attachment and are persons desirous of liber-
(i.e . mumukShu-s desirous of mokSha).
The qualied are those who have the four fold requisities, 1.
discrimination between real and unreal (viveka) 2. non-attachment
indierent to the results of ones action) 3. desire for
emancipation (mumukShu-s) and 4. the six fold qualities,
a . sAma (restraint of internal senses)
b . dAma (restraint of external senses)
c . uparati (control of senses, without jumping from one object
to another)
d . samAdhAna (mind constantly on the Self)
e . titIkShA (indierent endurance)
f . shraddhA (faith).
The rest of the sixty seven verses may be roughly classied in
to the following
subjects, means for emancipation (2-5), sa.nsAra (6-12), vari-
ous sharIra-s
(embodiments) (13-19), adhyAsa (15-19), aha NkAra (26-30),
doctrine of
neti-neti (31-36), sAdhanA (37-39), self-realization (40-46),
vision of a
j nAnI and characteristics of a jivanmukta (47-53), and nally
the nature

of Brahman (54-68).
May the great AchArya, one of the greatest persons to grace
planet, Shankara, make us aware of His grace.

.. AtmabodhaH ..


var not in some



var , benedictive


) doubtful addition


var , also var





References in introduction include notes from the translations

by Swami Nikhilananda, TMP Mahadevan, Vidyaratna Menon,

and the sanskrit commentary by Swami Krishnanandashrami .

Transliteration is by Kim Poulsen (poulsen at
Comments by Giridhar giridhar at
Additional proofreading by Avinash Sathaye sohum at,
David Lyttle dhlyttle at, and Sunder Hattangadi
sunderh at
From Samata Edition of Complete works of Shankaracharya

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.. Atma Bodha ..
was typeset on April 10, 2015
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